WITHOUT doubt, litter – in all its various forms – is a menace.
It defaces neighbourhoods; it is unhygienic – and is often a danger to animals and wildlife. But how do we solve Britain’s growing litter problem? That’s a million dollar question.
I say this because during the course of a chequered PR career during the 1970s, I was for a period of three years or so Campaign Director for the Keep Britain Tidy Group. And I was responsible for the introduction (from America) of the familiar ‘Tidyman’ logo which is now featured on so much of our packaging. I often spot in on a wrapper lying in the gutter!
During my time with KBT, we produced the most ambitious public service campaign against litter – enlisting the voluntary support of a number of TV celebrities of the time including Ronnie Corbett; Morecambe and Wise; Steptoe and Son; Dixon of Dock Green; Marc Bolan and a young David Cassidy, among others.
The campaign was spearheaded by a series of eye-catching TV and cinema commercials – courtesy of Saatchi & Saatchi. The most memorable – with the slogan, ‘My little wrapper can’t do any harm’ – entailed the dropping and spreading of over twelve tons of shredded paper over the entire length of the Portabello Road in London – a bold advertising venture which very nearly turned into a nightmare!
This ambitious advertising programme was complemented by an intensive educational campaign in schools. For me, those were exciting and stimulating times. But were the combined campaigns effective? At the end of the day, was there less litter left lying around? I wish I could give a positive answer.
The sad fact is that the feckless continued to drop litter in every conceivable place and on every conceivable occasion.
In short, those who thoughtlessly drop their litter simply couldn’t care less. Sadly, over the years, we have become a nation of slobs and I cannot imagine any campaign or threat of on the spot fines having very much effect.
Unless and until we regain our self-respect as a nation, I fear that the litter problem will remain – for it is nothing less than a barometer of our declining personal values.
ROBERT B WORLEY
Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham